NEW YORK (March 9, 2005) -- Laveranues Coles got down to business once he rejoined the New York Jets. He gave Chad Pennington a big hug.
Coles was happy to be back with his old teammate after passing a physical that finally completed his trade from Washington. The Redskins got speedy wideout Santana Moss in return, a swap of receivers who were unhappy with their respective teams' conservative offenses last year.
The deal was agreed on March 5, but Coles and Moss needed to pass physicals to make the trade official. Moss passed his on March 7.
"I wanted to be here," Coles said on a conference call. "Anytime you have a quarterback like Chad Pennington, who wouldn't want to come play with him?"
Coles and Pennington had great chemistry in 2002, when the receiver had 89 catches for 1,264 yards and six touchdowns. But Coles bolted for Washington following that season, when the Redskins offered a lucrative contract the Jets refused to match.
After leaving the team, Coles was critical of coach Herman Edwards and Jets management for letting him go. Coles has apologized for his remarks, saying he has matured. But he was soon unhappy with his role in Joe Gibbs' offense, after catching 90 passes for 950 yards last season, and asked for the trade.
When asked to elaborate on his problems in Washington, Coles said, "I wasn't comfortable and I'm going to leave it at that."
But he added he and Gibbs were on good terms.
The trade had been in the works for weeks, but it was only when Coles agreed to a restructured contract that everything was worked out. His new deal reportedly gives him a $5 million signing bonus. The Redskins are responsible for the final $5 million of the $13 million signing bonus he got when he signed with them.
Coles seems eager to reconnect on the field, but that might take a while because Pennington is recovering from right rotator cuff surgery. Nonetheless, Pennington was happy to have Coles back.
"It was obvious after the 2002 season that Laveranues and I had developed a quarterback-wide receiver connection, as well as a friendship," Pennington said in a statement. "I think he fits perfectly into our receiving corps because of his toughness and his playmaking abilities in both the running and passing game."
There were questions about a chronic toe injury that hampered Coles the last two seasons. The Redskins wanted him to have surgery, but Coles was reluctant to undergo any procedure. When asked about his toe, Coles refused to elaborate, saying only that he passed his physical and Jets doctors cleared him to play.
The Jets believe Coles is an upgrade from Moss, who had his breakout year in 2003, and know how special his relationship was with Pennington. Coles joins Justin McCareins as the starting receivers under new coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, who is expected to reinvigorate a rather bland attack.
"He brings a physical and dynamic presence to our receiving group and is familiar with our program," general manager Terry Bradway said in a statement. "He has the mind-set to help us win a championship."